John Ford Reprints the Legend

[Originally published in Movietone News 42, July 1975]

John Ford was probably more conscious of the meaning of history than any other American director; in a sense, the evolution of his historical vision is the measure of his growth as an artist. This evident fact is often commented on but, surprisingly, almost invariably in only the most general terms. A natural, useful way of defining this evolution more precisely is to compare closely related films Ford made at different stages of his career. An ideal subject for such a study, a pair of films sharing a common setting, literary source and group of recurring characters, is Judge Priest and The Sun Shines Bright. So closely, in fact, are the two related that it has become popular to describe the second film as a “remake” of the first. While such terminology is not exactly accurate, it does suggest that a comparative study of the two films should make it possible to analyze the evolution of Ford’s historical perspective in precise, concrete terms.

One way to measure the extent of this evolution is to compare the respective endings of the two films. Each conclusion revolves around a parade, but their tones are as different as their times, as day and night. Judge Priest ends with a sunlit parade; the final shot is of Confederate war veterans marching forward past both sides of the camera. In fact the parade literally surrounds the camera, as if to engulf the audience in the celebration taking place on screen (and the shot itself makes the ending uniquely processional in the work of a director whose final images are almost invariably recessive). In addition, the entire parade sequence is organic; everyone connected with it could be encompassed by a single longshot. Even the purely personal moments (such as a final feat of tobacco-juice-spitting marksmanship) are visually presented within their larger context, shown on a screen teeming with people.

‘The Sun Shines Bright’

The final image of The Sun Shines Bright is of Jeff Poindexter (Stepin’ Fetchit) sitting alone on a porch in the evening, lazily playing his harmonica. The music is audible, but otherwise there is scarcely a sign of life on the screen; the shot could almost be a still photograph. The final image of a solitary figure suggests an individual isolation consistent with the visual fragmentation of the entire final sequence. Each character or group, all the (surviving) members of cast and community who have been important in the film, are given recognition time here (as in Judge Priest and countless other Ford films), but in this case the reintroduction is accomplished without any unifying group shots; we see each pan of the community but never the entire social organism. For example, while the title character in Judge Priest last appears on the screen as one (not particularly important) part of the veterans’ parade, in The Sun Shines Bright he is last shown walking away from the camera into his house alone. As he passes through a doorway, a room, and another doorway beyond the realm of natural lighting, we are watching an individual receding into legend rather than a social group advancing into a dynamic future.

These differences are particularly meaningful because the films are so closely related otherwise that they afford a textbook illustration of the ways Ford, as his vision matured, altered his creative approach. The interval between the temporal settings of the two films is roughly equivalent to that between the dates they were made. Just as 1890 was the mythic setting most appropriate to the vision Ford wished to express in 1934, so by 1953 a setting in the 20th century (1905) had become a necessary correlative to the alterations in Ford’s historical perspective. Clearly, though, the significance of the change is Ford’s metaphor rather than history’s fact. It is as if the director felt that the mythic community of Judge Priest, with the kind of perfect social harmony whose loss permeates much of his later work, increasingly demanded the revisionist treatment of The Sun Shines Bright.

It is the connections between the two films which make the patterns of their differences so meaningful. Even the common setting is important; the physical environment determines the quality of life in the community. In the benevolent mythic South, where the weather is always warm and sunny, it is simply not necessary to struggle to wrest a living from nature. Accordingly, virtually no one, in either film, is actually shown doing what would ordinarily be considered as work to earn a living. This fact defines the community as fundamentally different from, for example, Ford’s wilderness. Within the context of all the settings to be found in Ford, those of these two films are functionally identical; the town is abstract and metaphoric, a place where man simply is and can be, without the necessity for struggle. The question of survival is never at issue. Life is easy in this town; perhaps the dominant recurring image is that of Priest, sitting on the porch in the evening sipping a julep.

In addition, the films share certain narrative components and specific characters. Judge Priest and Jeff Poindexter are central figures in both films. Further, there are the Civil War veterans, their ranks depleted by 1905 but their enthusiasm for a good war story unabated. The opposition to Priest is still led by the pompous Senator Horace K. Maydew (though in the later film his age is altered so that he is of a younger generation than Priest). Narratively, each film begins with a trial and ends with a parade. During the action, a threat to the traditional values of the community is finally overcome, old familial ties acknowledged, and a young couple romantically united.

As the endings suggest, this broad framework of similarities is at best superficial and at worst deeply misleading. Judge Priest is essentially a unified work; the emotional resonance of its ending is the result of its inevitability as the release of the nostalgically martial emotions latent throughout the story. The Sun Shines Bright is more complex and ambivalent. A parade scarcely seems an appropriate ending for this film; consequently, the fragmentation of the parade implies the disintegration of the community. The parade itself is staged to celebrate Priest’s reelection by a single vote. The precariousness of both Priest’s victory and the community’s moral cohesiveness imbues the sequence with a tone of sadness, an awareness of individual and societal mortality. Its poignancy depends not on inevitability but on precariousness, not on force but on fragility. Thus the final static image of Jeff suggests that the film itself is an attempt to freeze a moment of history onto film, without confronting the moral chaos to follow.

Like the endings, the films themselves are completely different in tone. Even the titles are ironic and reversed, Judge Priest is not about an individual but about a community; The Sun Shines Bright is not about the idyllic values celebrated in “My Old Kentucky Home,” but about the relationship of Judge Priest and those values to a community being seduced from the purity of the mythic past by the twin sirens of prohibition and progress. The dramatic force of Judge Priest is the result of its perfect internal harmony; the essence of The Sun Shines Bright is the force of the society’s internal contradictions and the inexorability of the arrival of a tradition-destroying synthesis. The more carefully the two films are examined, the more thoroughly are their differences perceived.

The differing treatments of elements common to both films objectify the growth of Ford’s belief that the myths of American history could not survive without regeneration. Virtually every aspect of The Sun Shines Bright is significantly different from its counterpart in Judge Priest. Both town and citizens have undergone changes which are barely perceptible but deeply significant. Even at the opening of the later film Priest is not, as in the earlier, presiding over his courtroom by reading a newspaper, but walking through town, apparently oblivious to Jeff’s urging to hurry since he is already, as has become his habit, late for court. This sequence establishes the tone of the film subtly but irrevocably. Priest and his generation have grown out of harmony with the rhythms of modern life, are unwilling or unable to conform to the abstract schedules which progress so evidently demands.

In each film the first major sequence is the trial of a Negro boy accused of falling prey to his natural tendency to be lazy and shiftless. In Judge Priest, the boy, Jeff Poindexter, is clearly guilty of the crime of chicken-stealing, but the attention of the courtroom shifts from legal business to a discussion of the Ole Massah whose surname Jeff bears. That man was a Civil War hero who once stole chickens in the line of duty (implying that the crime itself is not absolute). More important, though, the conversation has moved to the old Major as if he were Jeff’s father. This implies the real problem, Jeff is not a criminal but an orphan, a child without moral guidance. The next sequence, which shows Jeff and the Judge trudging off to go fishing together, seems to suggest that this court makes a mockery of the law. In fact, though, this outcome embodies perfect, personal justice. Instead of punishing Jeff as the letter of the law and the rules of evidence demand. Priest simply adopts him, ensuring that, in the future, he will be under proper moral supervision. The War anecdotes at first seem like the babblings of old men, but, by placing Jeff’s actions in a context which the facts alone could not, they actually become the vehicle for the discovery of perfect justice. The real “crime,” separating the darkies from their parent-masters, was perpetrated by the hated Yankees, but a courtroom full of Confederate veterans has the wisdom to recognize and overcome this problem.

The trial in The Sun Shines Bright is superficially similar; a boy is charged with failing to support his poor old uncle. Instead of working, he plays his banjo all day. In this trial, though, the boy is named after U.S. Grant and the tune he plays spontaneously is “Marching Through Georgia.” With some coaching, he changes to “Dixie” and plays it with equal enthusiasm. This naturally evokes a celebration which climaxes as the Judge takes out his old bugle and plays a few sour notes, which summon some old veterans to the court. The entire sequence here is formal and ritualistic and, when a rebel yell heralds the arrival of another veteran, Priest, as if awakened from a reverie, selfconsciously calls for order in the court. The Judge is embarrassed, even a little ashamed as he realizes that the court has been completely sidetracked. The War is neither central nor relevant to the court’s business. In addition, since the uncle neither needed nor demanded support in the first place, no crime has even been committed. The change is clear and basic here: the War is part of the remote past, the legal proceeding itself trivial and meaningless. Things that were central to life in Judge Priest arc, in The Sun Shines Bright, reduced to peripheral diversions.

The contrast in the relationship of legal system to community is a central point around which the societal differences between the two films can be measured. In Judge Priest, Priest’s personal, subjective courtroom is the source of perfect justice, the arena for the discovery and implementation of the will of the community; in The Sun Shines Bright, Priest’s court simply disappears from the action after the opening sequence, and the arena of moral choice, of the community’s determination of right and wrong, is moved from law to politics, from the courtroom to the streets. In Judge Priest, when Maydew wishes to challenge Priest’s role in the community he does it by demanding that the Judge disqualify himself from trying a specific case; in The Sun Shines Bright, Maydew challenges Priest by opposing him in an election. The final verdict of Judge Priest is a complete vindication of Priest and of his legal philosophy; the election outcome in The Sun Shines Bright merely prolongs Priest’s tenure in office.

In the earlier film, Priest’s role in the community is vindicated in the trial of Bob Gillis, falsely accused of assault. Before the trial begins, Maydew demands that Priest step down in favor of an impartial trial judge. Priest replies with an awkward, fumbling speech acknowledging partiality but denying unfairness. He cannot really comprehend such a demand, so alien to his complete faith in his own style of personal justice. As he sadly leaves the courtroom, he concludes his awkward, touching speech with the ironic instruction: “Now you all forget everything I just said.” While technical fairness demands that the words of a partisan trial judge be ignored, human nature inevitably prevents jurors from simply willing the cancellation of an emotional experience. Similarly, the limitations of law “by the book” are again emphasized as the case against Gillis develops; the law, which assumes that men are of goodwill, is unable to evaluate the systematically perjured testimony which indicates his guilt.

Ultimately, the resolution of the case does not depend on a specific determination of Gillis’s guilt or innocence. Instead, in this court, the disclosure of his record of wartime heroism is treated as the revelation of a transcendent moral truth. Although the war record has no direct relevance to the merits of the case, it serves, like some tribal ritual of trial by fire, as the means of establishing absolute moral worth. As the courtroom is overwhelmed with enthusiasm for the newly revealed hero, a truth is revealed beyond mere fact, a justice achieved beyond mere law. Gillis’s moral stature is recognized, he is elevated to his appropriate position in the community, and he is united with his daughter and freed from the shame which had prevented him from disclosing his identity to her. The real jury is the community and the real verdict is rendered in the Veterans’ parade, when Gillis is pulled from the sidelines into the parade and given the position of honor as the bearer of the hallowed Confederate flag. In addition, this verdict is an implicit personal vindication of Priest (who has, after ill, foiled Maydew once again). More tragically, though, it is a vindication of his approach to law as the search for truth rather than a simple adherence to the rules of evidence.

‘Judge Priest’

In The Sun Shines Bright, Priest’s role in the community, his position as judge, is challenged in an election. His victory there depends on his receiving the unanimous support of a mob he had earlier prevented from lynching an innocent man. He is able to stop the mob by persuading it that it could be mistaken, and more importantly, by offering to shoot the first man who approaches the jail. Later, the innocence of the prisoner becomes clear with the discovery of the identity of the real criminal (the leader of the mob), who is then shot trying to escape. The entire progression turns on specific facts. Neither the character of the prisoner nor the abstract morality of lynching is ever considered by the mob. Finally, even its support of Priest is in gratitude, not for his preventing a lynching, but for his preventing the lynching of the wrong man. If the community of Judge Priest is concerned with abstract moral truth, that of The Sun Shines Bright seeks only specific, factual evidence.

With the changed relationship of the law court to the discovery and implementation of justice has come a dramatic change in Priest’s role in the community. In Judge Priest, he is the leading spokesman for the shared values which make the town a genuine community. Accordingly, at each crucial point in the action, someone other than Priest can be relied on to take decisive moral action. When Priest feels helpless to secure justice for Gillis, the minister comes forward with the information which can do so. When Flem Talley makes rude comments about Ellie May, it is Gillis, not Priest, who strikes him and defends the community ideal of reverence for womanhood. Ultimately, as the final trial shows, even Priest’s presence as judge is not indispensable; the dominant force in the courtroom is the will of the community rather than the presence of a specific judge.

This is significantly different from Priest’s function in the society of The Sun Shines Bright. In the later film, at each crucial point in the action, ultimate moral responsibility falls on Priest alone. It is he who must confront the lynch mob and he who must see to the Christian burial which was the last wish of the dying prostitute. He does these things despite his awareness of their consequences to his election prospects. In his absence the values he upholds would virtually disappear from the town. It is, perhaps, in recognition of this ultimate burden that Priest, after confronting the mob, again after learning of the prostitute’s dying wish (and finally after the concluding parade of tribute to him), needing a drink, euphemistically declares, “I’ve gotta get my heart started.” So complete is this responsibility for moral leadership that it is even left to Priest to cast the deciding vote in the election. The social ritual which most clearly reflects this basic pattern of moral responsibility in each film is the parade. In Judge Priest there is a single parade, involving the entire community, celebrated with equal enthusiasm by participants and spectators. There is no real separation between the marching veterans and the civilians on the sidelines. Finally, when Bob Gillis is taken from the crowd into the parade (and given the honored position of flag-bearer), any such distinctions between spectators and participants are symbolically obliterated.

‘The Sun Shines Bright’

In The Sun Shines Bright, there are several parades, each of them expressing divisions within the community rather than its organic wholeness. Even the lynch mob can be seen as a travesty of a parade; it is, after all, a group of people marching together with a common purpose. However, this shared goal to lynch an innocent man (at the instigation of the real criminal) is utterly false. The same group subsequently marches together to vote as a unit, for Priest, and, still later, as one component of the film’s final parade. Clearly, then, this group, the Tornado Boys, is socially cohesive but morally directionless.

The campaign parade of Maydew supporters, loud, vulgar and proclaiming his program of temperance, modernism, and the uprooting of vice, is an amorphous group without meaningful ties. This parade is directly followed by the funeral procession, whose stately, imposing silence contrasts forcefully with the loud brashness of the political demonstration. As the procession advances, members of the community, seeing Priest, wordlessly join in out of respect for the last wishes of the dead woman, without regard for social or political consequences. The words Jeff speaks to break the silence, “Me and the Judge ain’t never gonna get elected now,” emphasize the probable consequences, to Priest, of proper moral action. The Maydew parade is a celebration of amoral expedience; the funeral procession bears witness to the existence of transcendent moral truths.

The parade which concludes the film, in which much of the community pays homage to Priest, is the film’s final definition of the society. It is characteristic that this parade is staged solely to honor a single individual; this seems as appropriate to the spirit of this film as it would be antithetical to that of Judge Priest. The community is acknowledging its dependence on a single authority figure, a ruler, as its guide to proper moral conduct. The structure of the parade is characteristic of the structure of the community itself. The parade is not simply a cohesive social group, the community, but a series of smaller social units, marching separately, at intervals, past Priest’s house. There are not simply veterans and spectators (spiritually united), but Confederate Veterans, Union Veterans. Cadets, Tornado Boys, and the Ladies Auxiliary. The obvious implication is that no one owes primary allegiance to the community; the social bonds which define an individual’s role are now ties to these smaller groups; the community itself is disintegrating.

Just as the social structure of the community has changed, with complexity implying moral disintegration or demanding authoritarian leadership, so the relationship of the community to the Civil War has altered decisively. In Judge Priest, the War is clearly the central fact of life in the community. It exists as an abstraction rather than a reality, a mythic rather than a factual event. This mythic War, the source of heroic legends, provides the community with an infallible moral guide to right actions and attitudes. It is, in fact, the source of the town’s values, the bond which makes it a socially cohesive community. Interestingly, the resonance of this mythic War is undiminished despite the fact that, from the beginning of the film, it is gently satirized as the pervasive veterans, still in uniform, continually embellish their already exaggerated anecdotes.

It is in the content of the final courtroom testimony, though, that the myths are elucidated fully and systematically. The response which this testimony evokes is ample evidence that these are, indeed, the myths which unite and sustain the community. The actual story is prefaced by the revealing comment that “The Confederacy was robbing both the cradle and the grave,” accompanied by the murmured assent of the jurors, all veterans themselves. Gillis’ heroism is figured in three specific acts, each performed in the face of heavy enemy fire. The first is the rescue of a wounded Union officer; the second, recapturing the Confederate flag; and the third, resisting a Union charge, alone and virtually unarmed. The testimony as a whole perfectly expresses the mythic content of the War. The prefatory comment implies that the military defeat of the Confederacy was the inevitable result of the insurmountable superiority of Union resources rather than any deficiency of Confederate courage or commitment. The story itself relates three acts, each of dubious military effectiveness, but each epitomizing some aspect of the code by which the South fought. The first action, rescuing a wounded enemy (significantly an officer), implies both the comradeship of all soldiers as gentlemen and an adherence to the chivalric code of warfare. The second act, recapturing the flag, is a quintessential expression of patriotism, and the third, confronting a charge alone and unarmed, the final proof of bravery and devotion to duty. With these actions, Gillis is transformed into a symbol of the mythic Confederacy. The appeal of the story is irresistible, his acquittal assured, and the town engulfed in a wave of celebration.

A relative detachment of the community from the War-as-myth is a pervasive social phenomenon in The Sun Shines Bright. The dominant women’s organization in the community, the Daughters of the Confederacy in the first film, has been replaced by the Women’s Temperance League (in a change that must be, for Ford, the ultimate metaphor for complete social breakdown and moral disintegration). Even Maydew, as a practicing politician, treats the War, in his rhetoric, in opposite ways in the two films. In Judge Priest, as he attempts to prevent a War story from inclusion as evidence in Gillis’s trial, he feels compelled to preface the challenge with the qualifier, “I yield to no man in my devotion to that sacred cause.” In the second film, his most flamboyant and revealing rhetorical flourish is his hopeful assertion that “No longer will a gimpy leg or an empty sleeve be used as a blanket to smother the progress of the twentieth century.” Words that would have caused his lynching in the first film are, in the second, calculated to assure his election.

‘The Sun Shines Bright’

The community in Judge Priest obviously shares a consensus about the War, has in fact always been unanimous in supporting it as the heroic struggle of the South to preserve its values and traditions from Yankee interference. In The Sun Shines Bright, such a consensus is absent; the town has both Union and Confederate veterans. Not only is this community lacking in social cohesiveness in the present, but it clearly never had it in the past either (whether in 1890, the temporal setting of Judge Priest, or in 1861 at the outbreak of the War). In Judge Priest, the War is the source of the cohesiveness of the community; in The Sun Shines Bright it stands for the irrepressible conflict which always has divided that community. Thus the struggle itself is defined as divisive and fratricidal rather than gallant and unifying. In the first film, the past is mythic, heroic, dynamic and ongoing; in the second it is factual, morally ambiguous, dead, and increasingly forgotten. The myths of Judge Priest have no place in The Sun Shines Bright. The cause that was once venerated as a symbol of tradition is now reviled as a symbol of reaction.

In Judge Priest, the veterans are at the center of the life of the community; in The Sun Shines Bright, the dwindling band of old soldiers is so marginal to the community that it holds meetings in a hall full of empty chairs and must resort to “borrowing” a Union flag from the GAR Hall. At the opening of the Veterans’ Meeting, the men first crisply salute the U.S. flag, then lovingly place their hands over their hearts and gaze affectionately at their own Confederate banner. But even these unreconstructed rebels must grudgingly acknowledge Yankee domination. They may steal a Union flag rather than replacing their own worn-out one, but finally they must pay formal allegiance to it, though their hearts are elsewhere. Finally, as Priest acts as honor guard for the return of the stolen flag, the contrast between the tomblike Confederate Veterans’ Hall and the GAR Hall, full of smoke and teeming with life once again emphasizes the eclipse of the old cause, in fact as well as myth. The real meaning of the War is in the experience of fighting to uphold beliefs, rather than the substance of those beliefs. Priest and the Union commander express a mutual respect derived from common experience. It may not be exaggerating to assert that the moral puniness of the community is directly related to the physical and moral remoteness of the experience of “fightin’ for what we believed in” as a source of moral regeneration.

The mythic values of the old community have given way to a cynicism which seems to imply a sense of impending moral chaos. Even Priest accepts the changes, accommodating himself to them without, of course, losing sight of the fact that certain values cannot be compromised or sacrificed in the name of expediency. For example, when the Women’s Temperance League which “controls 200 votes” holds a party on election eve, Priest informs his friends that ‘”tonight, we’re for temperance.” In keeping with this policy, they all chew on cloves to suppress the smell of liquor on their breaths, and arrive at the party “smelling like hot mince pie.” Still, they are never actually shown inside the party, and Priest finally discards his glass of lemonade with an expression of disgust and contempt almost worthy of Ethan Edwards. It is clear that Priest, as a politician, must practice such deceptions; moreover, a cause like Temperance probably deserves such dishonesty. Priest does what he must to win votes, but pursuit of office must yield to the sacred obligation to honor the dead even if leading a prostitute’s funeral procession might jeopardize his election chances, might undo all the work done by “being for temperance.” Priest is capable of making such moral distinctions but for the rest of the town, they are elusive or invisible.

Finally, even the defense of a woman’s good name has a different value in each community. In Judge Priest, when Gillis strikes Talley for insulting Ellie Mae, Priest, as the spokesman for the community, wholeheartedly supports such action. Even when, at the trial, Gillis is willing to face a prison term rather than permit the woman’s name to be mentioned in open court, there is no real suggestion that he is doing anything but what any gentleman would do under the circumstances. In The Sun Shines Bright, though, when a gallantly intoxicated Ashby Corwin chastens Buck Ramsey (later revealed as a rapist), demanding satisfaction for his remarks about Lucy Lee, Priest stops him, reminding him that such action merely calls attention to itself, and that “We’ve got a secret to keep.” Here, then, even reverence for the good name of a woman is no longer an end in itself, no longer an absolute. Such formal respectability has become the province of the women of the Temperance League, a form of hypocrisy which the more worldly Priest now rejects.

Finally, Judge Priest is concerned solely with mythic history. Ford remembers the 1890 town in exactly the same way that the town recalls the War. The Sun Shines Bright likewise incarnates a myth, but one formulated rather differently; it is almost as if the myths of Judge Priest had confronted the facts of history. The resulting synthesis, which defines The Sun Shines Bright, embodies a new myth—more closely attuned to the facts of history, but still a myth. This concern for the presentation of revised myths is central to much of Ford’s later work. What, after all, are the Indians of Cheyenne Autumn (1964) if not the bloodthirsty savages of Stagecoach (1939) transformed, by the injection of a few historical facts, into Noble Red Men? Similarly, who is Ethan Edwards of The Searchers (1956) if not the classic loner with attention paid to the sinister as well as the heroic implications of the myth he incarnates?

In a sense, it is these revised myths which explain the altered moral universes in many of Ford’s later films. In the early works like Judge Priest, the action is set in an environment fundamentally supportive of the traditional values so sacred to Ford. Gillis, like Queen Mary (Mary of Scotland,1936), Sam Mudd (The Prisoner of Shark Island,1936) or Gypo Nolan (The Informer, 1935), is the victim of a unique situation inimical to the fundamental moral order of the film. But in the later films like The Sun Shines Bright, the protagonist must confront a hostile universe whose natural tendency seems to be to thwart the expression of those values. The second Priest’s moral sense, like that of Frank Skeffington (The Last Hurrah, 1958) or Dr. Cartwright (Seven Women, 1966), runs counter to the prevailing thrust of history. It is precisely because these characters continue to affirm their values, even in the face of cosmic malevolence, that these films, by making the characters’ moral choices more difficult, also make them more meaningful, more forceful, deeply felt (because tested) affirmations of the values at the heart of Ford. It is this richness of feeling and complexity of vision which characterizes the best of the later Ford.

JUDGE PRIEST (1934)
Direction: John Ford. Screenplay: Dudley Nichols and Lamar Trotti, after stories by Irvin S. Cobb. Cinematography: George Schneiderman. Music: Samuel Kaylin. Production: Sol Wurtzel. A Fox Film.
The players: Will Rogers (Judge Billy Priest), Stepin’ Fetchit (Jeff Poindexter), Henry B. Walthall (Rev. Ashby Brand), Anita Louise (Ellie May Gillespie), David Landau (Bob Gillis), Berton Churchill (Horace K. Maydew), Tom Brown, Rochelle Hudson, Brenda Fowler, Hattie McDaniel, Frank Melton, Matt McHugh, Vester Pegg, Charley Grapewin, Paul McAllister, Hy Meyer, Roger Imhof, Louis Mason, Francis Ford, Robert Parrish.

THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT (1953)
Direction: John Ford. Screenplay: Laurence Stallings, after stories by Irvin S. Cobb. Cinematography: Archie Stout. Art direction: Frank Hotaling. Music: Victor Young. Production: Ford, Merian C. Cooper. A Republic Picture.
The players: Charles Winninger (Judge Billy Priest), Stepin’ Fetchit (Jeff Poindexter), Arleen Whelan (Lucy Lee Lake), John Russell (Ashby Corwin), Milburn Stone (Horace K. Maydew), Russell Simpson, Ludwig Stossel, Paul Hurst, Mitchell Lewis, Henry O’Neill, James Kirkwood, Grant Withers, Francis Ford, Slim Pickens, Elzie Emanuel, Ernest Whitman, Jane Darwell, Dorothy Jordan, Trevor Bardette, Hal Baylor, Clarence Muse, Eve March, Jack Pennick, Harry Tenbrook.

Copyright © 1975 David Coursen